A Ride on the Edge

english.ysnp.gov.tw Jade Mountain  The Japanese calledTake a section of the Rocky Mountains, cover it in subtropical foliage and set it on an island one hundred miles off the coast of China and you have: eastern Taiwan.

During the widely-celebrated Moon Festival (September 22-25) we had the chance to visit Hualien, Taiwan’s country vacationland. We returned on the 24th, just before the climactic fourth day, Tuesday, so most of our time was spent on the road: a road that reminded me more than once of our dear West Virginia byways. The one major difference was that we had the ocean on one side!–the downhill side of course. What a backdrop for a vacation. Despite the rain there were still new birds to see and inside the tour bus I enjoyed getting to know Jonathan Slater who works in Hualien. Our Taiwanese hosts made for excellent company too and shared a lot about their culture and their country.
A wrap for lunch with peanuts and parsleyTaipei 101 is still the tallest building in the world
What’s been interesting for me is to stop and make some comparisons with West Virginia. Taiwan is just about half the size (13,823 square miles compared to our 24,244) but whereas our highest point (Spruce Knob) doesn’t even reach 5,000 feet and anything over 4,000 is notable, Taiwan’s highest point, Yu Shan (Jade Mountain) is close to 13,000 ft. (3,952 m): almost three times as high. This makes it more comparable to the Rocky Mountain range. Yu Shan matches the highest point on the Canadian Rockies almost exactly and comes within a couple thousand of those in Colorado such as Pike’s Peak at 14,110 ft. (By the way there are five peaks close behind Yu Shan and two hundred more peaks around 10,000 ft and above–all toward one side of an island half as big as West Virginia! So that accounts for some incredible terrain. At Hualien’s eastern edge, the mountains drop right to the coast, meaning there virtually is no coast. Now, can you imagine what it took to try cutting a highway system along this side of the island? If I had a hat on I would take it off to whoever had a part in constructing it. It’s beautiful. Exciting to ride but beautiful–not too far from taking WV Rt. 33 to Harrisonburg–in a tour bus–with the ocean on one side. No ride at an amusement park compares. It was great. I will add though that the wild-ness and wonderfulness (of any mountain range) really don’t owe themselves to actual height alone, so “If on sea or land I roam still I’ll think of happy home and my friends among those West Virginia Hills”!
Morning rain in HualienTour buses must stop for gas


  1. Esther September 28, 2007 at 6:16 am #

    A hearty “Still I think of happy home too!” from Oklahoma! In many different places yet all in the presence of the Lord.

  2. Robert September 28, 2007 at 6:27 am #

    What an incredible island! Thanks for the vivid description, Donald. God’s awesome creation does declare His glory!

    “When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
    And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;
    Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee,
    How great Thou art, how great Thou art!”

  3. James September 28, 2007 at 8:26 am #

    Sounds like quite an adventure! I am glad you were able to see some of the diverse geography as well as make good use of the time in the bus. I hope God brought by a whole lot of new bird species for you too.

  4. Daniel September 28, 2007 at 2:23 pm #

    Absolutely astonishing! I remember doing a W.B. report on the geography of Taiwan a few months ago, but I’m thinking now that I left quite a bit out. It’s amazing the difference a first-hand experience makes!

  5. Donald September 29, 2007 at 2:00 am #

    I’m still digesting this too, Daniel. It wouldn’t quite fit in the text under that first picture of Yu Shan but another interesting thing I found from Wikipedia was that the Japanese named it Mount Niitaka which means “New High Mountain” because it was taller (578 feet taller!) than Mount Fuji. Mountains in the Philippines all stay under 10,000 feet. On a global scale, there are three islands that have higher mountains than Taiwan: Borneo, Hawaii and Papua (New Guinea) which has the highest, barely surpassing 16,000 feet!

  6. Dad October 1, 2007 at 7:01 pm #

    Lets climb, lets climb, lets climb!

    Thanks for the update.
    Keep enjoying the Lord, His creation, and His people.


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